‘Cause we all just want to be big tech stars!

I love the technology world.  There is so much creativity, and the following video is a great example of that.  This music video is a parody of Nickelback's Rock Star music video.  Check it out.  There is more reality in this video than most of us would like to admit. 🙂

I saw this video on Brad Feld's great blog, "Feld Thoughts", so special thanks to Brad for bringing it to our attention.

The Problem: Sexting and Predators

It is hard for me to believe, but today is the nine year anniversary of buySAFE’s birthdate.  Time sure does fly by when you are having a good time. 

When I left buySAFE a few months ago, I promised to keep you up to date on my next entrepreneurial adventure.  In the spirit of start-up birthdays, I thought I would share with you a few interesting details about my next venture.

Sexting is rampant. Predators are everywhere. Obviously, buySAFE was founded to make the Internet safer for online shoppers, and we did that for tens of millions of consumers.  This time around, we want to make technology safer for our kids (Fatherhood has a way of inspiring you to do such things).  Our new start-up is tackling two serious, prevalent and complex problems: Sexting and Predators.  The market simply hasn’t provided any effective solutions for parents yet, and we intend to fill that gap.

The business was inspired by my brother, Tim Woda, who as the parent of older children, has had to confront these difficult issues directly.  It seems like every time I speak with a parent of tweens or teens, they express the same frustrations and fear about allowing their kids to use digital technologies.  Since there are more than 37 million kids in the U.S. and more than 1.2 billion kids globally between the ages of 9 and 17, I believe there is an interesting business opportunity here.

The following is a short video overview of the Sexting and Predator problems that parents face today.  If you have any feedback or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.  I welcome your assistance.  Also, please share this video with your friends and family.  I believe it is important that we educate parents to make sure they are fully aware of the digital dangers they must manage on behalf of their kids. 

I recognize that I haven’t told you how we are going to attack these scary problems, but I will over the coming months.  I wanted to tease you first!  🙂  Before telling you everything, we have to finish building out our product and raise a bit of capital to finance our public launch.  Both of these activities are ongoing (and going well), and I will share more as we make additional progress.

I will continue to provide you with regular updates here on this blog, but if you want to get more frequent updates, feel free to become a fan on my Facebook Fan Page.  I am using it to share my daily thoughts on this start-up adventure.  Thanks, and stay tuned!

Poor customer service goes viral

It should be obvious in a day and age with the Internet, YouTube, HD and video cameras, that poor customer service can be very costly to a company.  However, some of the old dinosaurs are a bit slow on the take.  This entertaining music video, “United Breaks Guitars”, was produced by a country singer who had a terrible experience on United Airlines.

As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but do a bit of math on the implications of such a viral production.  At the time of this blog post, more than 2.5 million people had viewed this music video on YouTube, and the bottom-line is that these 2.5 million people invested more than 11 million total minutes watching a negative message about United Airlines.  That is the same as 22 million 30 second commercials.  That is some serious negative PR!

I enjoyed the song and the video, and I can honestly say I will have a hard time getting the tune (and the message) out of my mind next time I have to consider United Airlines for a flight.  I am sure that at least half of the people that watched the viral video will have the same image stuck in their heads when they have to make a choice between United and other airlines.

Companies clearly have to get serious about treating their customers like gold, and this needs to start at the top of the organization and filter down to each and every employee.  In the video, Ms. Irlweg, a normal United employee, is singled out as the person that made the final decision on whether to solve this customer’s problem.  Today, she is infamous because of this video, and her decision turns out to have been pretty costly for United Airlines.

I recently purchased an Apple computer, and after a month or two, I had a tech problem.  I brought it into the Apple Store, and within 10 minutes, I walked out with a brand new laptop (with my old hard drive swapped into it).  The problem Apple fixed, for free and in minutes with a brand new laptop, was the type of problem that would have taken me a week to get fixed with Dell.  I was floored!  I could not believe the awesome customer experience from Apple, and at that moment, I officially converted to an Apple fan.  I have literally told everyone about the experience since that amazing customer service experience.

Although it was initially expensive for Apple to solve my customer service problem, I am 100% sure that their investment in me will pay off many times over in the coming months and years because of the positive word of mouth it created.

I am betting that this singer’s negative video on United Airlines will ultimately cost the company hundreds of times what it would have cost to simply solve this customer’s problem.  Can you imagine if United had solved this singer’s problem quickly,
without hassle, and with a smile?  What if they had surprised or
shocked him with their amazing customer service?  Perhaps he would have written a different song. “United Loves Guitars” has a much better ring to it.

Thank you buySAFE!

Buysafelogo
Today, I am starting a new chapter in my entrepreneurial story. It is with both a bit of sadness and a lot of excitement that I share with you the news that I have left buySAFE to pursue other start-up and entrepreneurial interests. In addition, I have joined buySAFE’s Board of Advisors so that I can continue to assist the company in whatever fashion is necessary.  Click here to see buySAFE's announcement on the buySAFE blog.

After almost nine years of building buySAFE, I am leaving the Company in very capable hands, with fresh funding, and the brightest future that the Company has ever had. It has been a deeply satisfying experience to create something valuable, and I want to sincerely thank our customers, our partners, my colleagues and the many investors who made buySAFE possible. I am obviously looking forward to my next adventure, but I am also very much looking forward to buySAFE’s continued success over the coming months and years.

I founded buySAFE after getting burned in an online transaction on eBay. As a student, I didn’t have any extra money to lose to ecommerce fraudsters, and so I decided that there had to be a better way to buy and sell products online. buySAFE was born!

This adventure started for me while I was earning my MBA at Wharton in 2000, and as with all start-ups, there have been huge successes and great challenges. For me, both have proven to be invaluable learning experiences.

Developing buySAFE’s early business/technology plan, acquiring our major financial institution and strategic partners (including two major strategic partners to be announced in the coming months), and raising our $30 million in venture capital financing were all challenges that I ultimately found to be great learning experiences. Over time, I was able to lead almost every aspect of buySAFE’s business operations, and all of these experiences were amazing for me personally and professionally. I plan to share with you many of the lessons I learned at buySAFE over the coming months.

Perhaps the thing I am most proud of at buySAFE is our team. Early on, I recruited Jeff Grass, Tim Woda, and Hans Dreyer to buySAFE. Today, Jeff is buySAFE’s CEO, Tim is the VP – Sales, and Hans is the VP – Operations. They are the core of our team even to this day. The rest of our team is amazing as well, and it has been a pleasure working with each and every one of them.

I never intended to spend almost a decade working on my Wharton class project, but along the way, buySAFE provided me with an amazing opportunity to make great friends, to learn important new skills, and to see that anything is possible with persistence and creativity. It also taught me that you can’t build a company by yourself.

Although I could never hope to name all of the folks that deserve my thanks, I wish I could. A few folks in particular – my wife, my brother, and buySAFE’s employees, customers, investors, and advisors – have all obviously been invaluable to both me and buySAFE. To all of you, thank you! I sincerely appreciate your investments in time, capital, expertise, and support. There would be no buySAFE without you.

As far as the next chapter in my entrepreneurial story, I am not ready to share the details quite yet, but please stay tuned. I will share my adventures with you here on my blog, so if you are interested, please make sure to subscribe using the form below.

Thank you buySAFE!

Related posts:

"Steve Woda, Founder and Chairman of buySAFE, Pursues New Entrepreneurial Ventures" on the buySAFE blog

"Founder of buySAFE, Steve Woda, Steps Down" on AuctionBytes.com

Zenoss Closes 2008 with 100 New Enterprise Customers & $15M in Financing

Zenoss Inc., the leading provider of commercial open source systems and network monitoring, today announced tremendous momentum through the end of 2008. In addition to astounding growth in commercial enterprise sales throughout the year, the company raised an additional $15 million of financing, was recognized with many awards including being named a finalist for a Jolt Award in the Enterprise Tools category and secured twice as many downloads as its nearest competitor in commercial open source IT management for 2008.

Zenoss added 110 new enterprise customers during the year, including Carlson Travel, Tyco Electronics, Cap Gemini, Formica and iStockphoto. Others, such as UTStarcom, Medifast, OpSource, OmniPresence, Broadcom, Johns Hopkins and Rackspace, renewed their annual subscriptions. Zenoss has gained the most traction in financial services, federal government, and among leading managed service providers where Zenoss management solutions are now routinely replacing traditional products from the “Big 4” systems management vendors (IBM, HP, BMC and CA).

As a result of this significant growth, Zenoss secured an additional $4 million in new financing from Silicon Valley Bank in December bringing the total raised to $15 million for the year and over $20 million cumulative. Other funding partners include top-tier venture capital firms Grotech Ventures, Intersouth Partners and Boulder Ventures.

Read more >> Zenoss Closes 2008 with Over 100 New Enterprise Customers, $15M in New Financing, and Numerous Industry Honors

 

Shopping Advisor approved by Mozilla for Firefox

Sa_firefox_addon
After two months of testing in Mozilla's developmental sandbox,
Mozilla approved the buySAFE Shopping Advisor for public distribution
via the Firefox Add-on site starting this week.

If you aren't already using Shopping Advisor with your Firefox
browser, you should install it as an add-on today.  You can check it
out on the official Mozilla Firefox Add-on site here… https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9009

I am obviously excited about this big milestone, and as always, I hope you will continue to provide us with your feedback, insights and ideas on
Shopping Advisor over the coming weeks and months.

Have fun, and happy new year!

Steve

JackBe Fueled to Extend Market Leadership; Adds $5 million in Funding

JackBe, the leading provider of enterprise mashup software, today announced that it has closed a $5 million round of funding and appointed software industry veteran Wayne Jackson as its new Chairman of the Board. The funding and appointment confirm JackBe's industry leadership and ready the company for continued growth and success through 2009 and beyond.

The $5 million funding was secured from existing investors including Harbert Venture Partners, Core Capital Partners, Blue Chip Venture Company, Intel Capital, and Darby Technology Ventures. The investment will be used by JackBe to expand sales, marketing, and partner activities worldwide.

Learn more >> JackBe Fueled to Extend Market Leadership; Adds $5 million in Funding and 25-year Industry Veteran as Chairman of the Board – MarketWatch

JackBe Lands $5 Million, Names Wayne Jackson as Chairman – Silicon Valley Wire

JackBe jacks another round with $5 million – Startup Meme Technology Blog